Thursday, June 3, 2010

Jury Fees

I seem to have plenty of company when it comes to disliking "jury fees". Since setting up the Southeast U.S. Call for Entries group on Facebook, and in many discussions with fellow artists over the past month regarding which shows, the topic of jury fees has come up frequently. Some are insulted by the fees, others are angry, but no one likes them on the artist end of the process. I'd bet show and festival organizers like 'em though!

Shows have always had entry fees, which seem to range anywhere from $35 to over $500 depending on the quality, age, reputation and traffic of the show / festival. No problem on those at all... after all, the organizers have costs, many give out cash prizes to top artists and even more use any money above and beyond the cost of the show for scholarships for budding artists, to support local arts or to help local charities.

However, many are now tacking on a non-refundable jury fee. If you get accepted, they keep the $25 - $50 jury fee and you then pay the regular show entry fee. If you don't make the cut, they still keep the jury fee. You really, really have to think you're going to get into the show if you're willing to fork over the non-refundable jury fee!

I haven't talked to any of the show organizers, but I would bet there is a two-fold reason for the fee:

1. It cuts back on frivolous entries by those who would never make the cut, or the hobbyist, those hoping to sneak by with buy-sell, etc. work.
2. It's another way of making money.

Given the fact that I have just started applying for more shows in the fine art festival market I am experiencing the fees for the first time. In the past all the shows I've done have been repeats and I've been invited back, haven't experienced the additional "jury fee" until now. I am guessing, but don't know, that after the first year you make it onto the "invite" list and you're not subjected to the jury fee. I could easily be wrong.

I'm curious to find out what your thoughts are on the jury fee. Do you feel insulted? Do you have ways of bypassing the fee? (note: some of my friends have said they get out of it if they know the show organizer (s) and / or make a phone call)

If you're on the other end, an organizer who gets inundated with applications, etc. I'd love to find out if I'm correct in my assumptions.

I added my info to ZAPP and am now getting a great email update with upcoming shows. All of them have jury fees and I'm "assuming" that all or a portion of the money goes to ZAPP.

I've applied to one show via ZAPP thus far. It was an interesting process. You can upload up to 40 photos of your work to use for entering, one being a booth shot.

I was stymied by that one as I've taken plenty of photos of portions of my booth at shows, but never a "whole" shot. There's a whole new world out there when it comes to applying for shows. I think it's great that booth shots are required --- it cuts back on those who enter with one piece of original work and then fill their booth with junk. However, I do a lot of indoor shows, gallery events, private showings, etc. and only a few festivals (until recently). Hopefully the shot I showed was sufficient for the powers-that-be at the show I entered or I just wasted $30. Bummer to the nth degree!!!

Another interesting part of the process was the category that wanted me to list the pieces I'd be showing. The show is in September, Labor Day weekend. I have shows and some events between now and then. The art that I might enter now may not exist in my inventory in September and I'm not willing to bypass a sale to hang onto work. I just put that I'd have all new original signed art for the show... hopefully that passed the muster, also.

Which reminds me --- more and more shows are requiring that your work be signed. That, I assume, is to stop someone from showing the work of their best friend or fellow artist... or to stop distributors or whatever they're called from setting up a shop with multiple artists... and possibly to stop reproductions, copies, store-bought, mass produced work. Good idea. And a good reminder for me to remember to sign every single piece I make!!! I get so involved in the process of creating sometimes that I only realize I missed signing it when I pull it out of the kiln. I think it looks chintzy to have an added after-the-firing signature, but it's important to have your mark and / or signature on each and every piece.


  1. As the director of a show -- and as an artist -- I can speak to both sides of the entry fee. As a director, I know that my show does not make money on the fees. The fees support the show -- no fees, no show. It is always interesting to me to see those people thinking they can have a show and make a pocket full of money on the entries. With a good show -- you barely have anything left! My show is a benefit -- basically the benefit is raising awareness -- through sales we raise a little cash for the beneficiary. As an artist -- I have to consider the show and how much I am spending to enter shows. You can't enter everything -- but you would like to. I weigh the coast versus the exposure of the show (it is known, who is the juror, quality of other work in past shows, etc.) and then decide is it worth my time and cash to be a part of it.

    I don't begrudge an entry fee if the show is a good one -- that is how it gets to be good. If it is the type of show where one could get out of the fee if they are a friend or they know someone -- I don't know if I would want to be a part of that. I am just speaking from the art show/exhibition side of things -- I have decided to not do art shows/festivals/fair types of events.

  2. Before I began selling my functional pottery I had shows of my paintings in Soho, NY. We used to discuss the fact that the losing artists were paying for the artists selected. Not quite sure if it is the same with pottery. Would love to hear more

  3. I would have thought that the jury fee goes to pay the jury for their time in viewing art and determining what is appropriate for the show. If I were asked to be on a jury for a show I would appreciate compensation for my time.
    I would be much happier paying a commission on the sales I've made after a show than prepaying before the show. That would mean the show directors would have to lay out the money for the advertising & such before the show. It's a huge expense and I see many don't want to do that. The compromise would be a small entry fee + commission.

  4. As the full-time chairperson of an all clay juried sale, I can tell you that our jury fees are necessary to provide budget for some start-up show fees, including juror fees. There is no guarantee how many applicants there will be for a show. Some shows are For Profit; many are run by communities trying to bring economic traffic into their area, or trying to support a 'cause' (with booth fees or gate admission), and in our case, to provide an opportunity for local artists to showcase their work. Nothing is free. Venues must be rented;postcards,posters,ads... everything costs something. Only our program development labor is free.
    Observations about applications: Need a geek artist to develop free program:indicate % of applications/acceptances per show, just like with colleges.


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